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How to Keep Students Engaged Over Spring Break

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

They call it spring “break” for a reason.

It is often said that the least popular teacher in a school is the one who gives homework over a break. Although you may want to keep your students’ skills sharp during the week off, especially with the high-stakes tests coming up, you don’t have to be the bad guy, either. Here are some ways to make spring break productive for your students without assigning chapters to read or worksheets to complete.

Utilize social media

Even though they are home and can see each other whenever they want, your students will still be hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. Assuming you’ve laid some social media groundwork in your class already, it’s a great way to keep their minds engaged on your subject matter away from class. Have a Twitter hashtag conversation about cool things they see over break that have to do with your class. If they are surfing the web over the week, have them submit an interesting link.

Learn something new

Show the kids the multitude of course materials available online, like TED talks and the Khan Academy. Have the students watch a lecture on something that interests them. It will show the kids that learning isn’t always about the curriculum and doesn’t stop when the bell rings. If you’re feeling particularly lucky, have them report back to the whole class with what they learned.

Give the parents ideas

For the most part, parents are more than willing to help their kids get a leg up in their schoolwork. Using some of your communication channels, like e-mail newsletter or text bombs, give parents ideas for educational things to do with their kids over break. Not only does it help alleviate boredom – the enemy of any parent over a long break - but also the right ideas can serve as bonding activities. Make sure you include some travel-friendly ideas, as a lot of parents will be with their kids in cars or on planes over break.

Return with a new unit

The chances of the students remembering any information from before break are practically zero. Don’t expect to be able to pick up right where you left off a week ago. Either budget a class day or two for review or schedule yourself where you’re starting a new unit upon return from break. Everyone comes back into the classroom on equal footing and there is less grumbling because the kids are (hopefully) more engaged with the new material.